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Bahrain 11, John Boehner 8, Boehner 7, Obama 5, America 5, Clinton 4, Michael Steele 4, Washington 4, Geithner 4, Arizona 4, Andrea Mitchell 3, Geico 3, Jan Brewer 3, U.s. 3, Rick Perry 2, Grover Norquist 2, Duracell 2, Obama Administration 2, Unparty 2, Franklin Foer 2,
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  MSNBC    NOW With Alex Wagner    News/Business. Alex Wagner.  
   Forces driving the day's stories. New.  

    December 3, 2012
    9:00 - 10:00am PST  

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president obama has a clear message for speaker of the house john boehner. >> terrified of what you might say. your move, chief. >> the a.p. headline reads white house to gop, it's your move. it is a point treasure secretary timothy geithner made clear over and over and over again. >> we've laid out a very detailed plan of spending cuts, $600 billion in spending in mandatory programs over ten years. if they would like to go beyond that or do it differently they need to tell us what they propose and then tell us what makes sense to them. but what we can't do is try to figure out what makes sense for them. tell us what they like as a complement to that. we can't react to anything until we see doots he tails of a proposal. we can't figure out what they need. they have to tell us. >> house speaker john boehner isn't playing ball claiming the white house proposal is a joke. >> it's flabbergasted.
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you can't be serious. i've never seen anything like it. >> boehner insists that talks have broken down. >> right now i would say we're nowhere. period. we're nowhere. we've put a serious offer on the table by putting revenues up there to try to get this question resolved. but the white house has responded with virtually nothing. >> there are now 29 days until the country reaches the so-called fiscal cliff. and only 19 of those are business days. as yet there's been no counteroffer from the gop but today "the wall street journal" advises republicans to say the course writing given the political difficulty of reforming entitlements republicans are right to try get mr. obama's fingerprints on a deal this year. if mr. obama won't agree to these demin muss reforms republicans should let mr. obama own the debt crisis he has done so much to create. conservative commentator bill crystal says they're making a
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dangerous gamble. >> republicans are at risk in my view now of looking like they're defending, keeping the current tax rates for the wealthy. end of the day president obama is selling a simple message, i want to keep taxes low for middle-class americans and republicans look like -- i'm worried are in the position offiof ing -- looking as fe the don't care about middle class. >> joining us is the sage of capitol hill, boat shoe enthusiast and celebrity doppelganger, nbc's luke russert. >> good day. happy monday. >> thank you, luke. it's an exciting time on capitol hill my friend. i want to focus first on the gop. is the party coming together, coalescing around something, anything, relating to the fiscal cliff? >> well, i think they're coalescing around anything it's for speaker boehner to continue the negotiations and not give a single inch. the gop has done very well over the last few years is in the
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negotiations with president obama. they've held a hard line to the very end including during the debt limit where john boehner is allowed to say he got 98% of what he wanted. what you have to look for is the splinter that tom cole started last week, heard mr. chris toll say about how the president has an effective bully pulpit he can go around the country and say 98% of americans with a tax cut under my plan, trying to save it for the rich. republicans are coalescing around, if anything, is this idea that in order for the president to move on entitlements, they got to hold this hard line on the bush tax cuts for 250 or above. they don't want any deal that doesn't have to pertain to entitlements. that's why you're seeing the saber rattling that we thought would only be in november continue into december. as of right now there is no clear way forward talking to both sides. >> the -- michael steele, the saber rattling has reached an almost deafening pitch, i think. maybe on both sides. i wonder, you know, from your
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perspective is bill crystal and tom cole ultimately helping john boehner in terms of laying the groundwork or hurting him? >> i think they're absolutely standing there with a flashlight in the darkness of the abyss that is the discussion that doesn't exist between the white house and boehner and saying that this is the way forward for a lot of members of the gop. i think bill started this sort of conversation if you will a few weeks ago on his show talking about, well, i think 250 and above, we can live with that. the bottom line is, you have a mindset that's growing quickly that says look, why don't we just give the president what he wants on the middle class tax cuts, we all agree with that. it is the 250 and above where the discussion on entitlements really hinges and so that's why the administration is saying, well you show me yours and i may show you mine. and that's where we are right now. everybody is going to show theirs together probably around the last week of december and
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we'll all just get it done. >> everybody will play doctor. >> toward the end of december. >> that's about right. look, this is -- as luke can tell you, this is not surprising. luke is not sitting there in washington going, gee, i wonder when they're going to get a deal done. he knows how this is going to play out. >> yes. >> i have to ask you, because there's so much sort of feigned shock that the president is playing quote/unquote hard ball here. i'll read a quote from "the washington post" -- he says why was anyone surprised obama's initial offer to the republicans was a compendium of what he preferred. we became accustomed to obama's -- are republicans on the hill factually surprised or is this sort of feigned outrage to make the president look unreasonable? >> no. i think there is an actual surprise last week when tim geithner came to capitol hill and gave a plan that included, amongst other things, billions in more stimulus as well as the ability for the president to set the debt limit himself without
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review by legislative body. those are two big things that send shivers up the spine of house republicans that they would never in a million years agree to. so we heard about this type of deal a few weeks ago and the fact that it was mr. geithner's opening offer on behalf of the white house i think is why you heard speaker boehner who requested to go on fox news on sunday to say how absurd it was in his opinion, and there is real outrage there. what i think you're seeing is sort of a move by the gop to make it a lot worse than it actually really is. there is no doubt they were angered by it but to say geithner's opening offer is going to curtail the ability of them having a deal later on is untrue. >> talk about timothy geithner a little bit. he's become the ambassador from the white house to the hill and bloomberg has an interesting analysis of what he offers in that role. basically pragmatism. they write --
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do you think he's an effective ambassador and as luke says, would that suggestion that congress relying distinguish power over the debt ceiling be even more unpalatable had it been jack lew presenting it? >> i think that would have been unpalatable no matter what. that came out of left field and everybody was surprised, republicans were surprised. on the other hand what the president was trying do is avoid everything we went through last summer which was terrible and as bad as this is, you know, we actually have less time this time around. that was really damaging. and, you know, and geithner knows that very well. >> do you think the white house is in a better position this time than last time in shouldering blame if it falls apa apart? >> yeah. they just won an election. their position on policies are much more popular than the republican positions are and they're willing to go over the cliff. going over the cliff for them is not the worst of all possible
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worlds. they get the tax position that they want, they get spending cuts that they can basically live with, and obama is capable of managing the economic fallout of it. that's another reason why i think it's important that geithner is the front man here, that geithner is the type of guy who can talk to the street in a way that's very assuring. >> the street, not the streets. >> yeah. >> also if they -- if we go over the cliff, i mean, the republicans then look like they let it happen all for the 2% as michael was saying because that's what this becomes about. that's not something they want. it doesn't put them in a good position. to some degree this is a choreographed dance that has to happen. they cannot come to a deal without a humongous fight. >> this is also the white house i think has managed the optics well on this and dubbed it the great reasonableness tour of 2012. it's not a coincidence that the president was golfing with bill clinton this sudden.
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that is as much the president likes golf as much as an effort to say, here i am with the great dealmaker, the reasonable guy that everybody likes, regardless of whether clinton's actually giving him any advice on this although i'm sure he is. >> if you look back to the health care debate obama tried to appear reasonable last time and that didn't work well for him. what he's doing now is all the things he didn't do last time. starting with the unreasonable position, with what he wants rather than what he thinks he'll get which is a better bargaining position. he's going out and trying to get people to pick up the phone, take up, you know, twitter and facebook and tell congress we want to get this done. so he's doing a lot of the things from a negotiating standpoint that he didn't do last it time around, while still, you know, kind of queuing up the blame game as both sides are doing to make sure that other guy takes the fall if it doesn't work. >> and i think to eric's point, this is why you hear the bill crystals of the world saying what they are saying because the political reality has changed. this is not 2011 anymorep. it's 2012. on the heels of a 51/47 or
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whatever it is election. and that reality is shaking a lot of republicans and some democrats quite frankly, i mean you make a fine point ability the democrats -- about the democrats wanting to go over the fiscal cliff but not all do because in that fall, are some very important projects and programs that they then have to go to their districts going into 2014 to talk about and so everybody gets the end game here and the articulation of that, to your point, is much better served by the president right now than it is by the gop. >> luke, in terms of john boehner and all of this, is he prepared to forfeit the votes of the most sort of conservative members of his base, and the other thing i want to ask you about his timing -- theoretically we think he's going to get re-elected speaker of the house, the speaker's office thinks he's going to get reelected speaker -- that vote could happen, if this deal gets pushed into january that could happen within a matter of weeks? >> i don't think there's any doubt that john boehner will be
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re-elected speaker of the house no matter what happens with this deal. no one behind him. brutus as has been said before on this network. i think in this case, boehner would be willing to go in -- he's gone into the big deals needing democratic support to get across the line before and he will be more than willing to do that. the most interesting thing, boehner from the conversations i had, he wants something tangible he can take back to his conference and say look, we might have this issue with the taxes but look what i got in entitlements. if that's raising the medicare entry age, something to do in terms of about thor reimbursement payments, something in that realm he can physically take and say i got this in exchange for that, that would make it easier sell for his conference. he's going to lose the hardliners no matter what, especially the folks who lost. they're more than happy to go all-in on opposing it. >> would a batch of white house christmas cookies do the trick? >> probably not. a nice bottle of merlot would do
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the trick for the speaker. >> luke russert thank you my friend, as always. catch one of the key voices behind the fiscal cliff negotiations here on "now" tomorrow when americans for tax reform president grover norquist joins us tomorrow at noon eastern. and after the break, entitlement reform hot potato. that's next on "now." music is a universal language. but when i was in an accident... i was worried the health care system spoke a language all its own with unitedhealthcare, i got help that fit my life. information on my phone. connection to doctors who get where i'm from. and tools to estimate what my care may cost. so i never missed a beat. we're more than 78,000 people looking out for more than 70 million americans.
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the vast majority of democrats on capitol hill would prefer not to have to do anything on entitlements, would
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prefer frankly not to have to do anything on some of these debt and deficit problems. if you look at the numbers, then medicare in particular, will run out of money and we will not be able to sustain that program, no matter how much taxes go up. i mean it's not an option for us to just sit by and do nothing. >> that was president obama in the summer of 2011 speaking the hard truths about entitlements. it did not exactly play well for him then and he's been largely quiet on the issue since, perhaps because for both parties talk of cutting social security and medicare hurts a lot. >> there's a pain point that democrats have to reach as well. it's not just republicans. that both sides have to be able to get to the end of this things and say, yes, the president won re-election but there is nobody that gets away with this thing without feeling pain. >> and there are some on the left who hope to get through this without having to go under
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the knife. adam green, co-founder of the progressive change campaign says -- yesterday on abc's "this week" congressman keith ellison squared off on the issue with former obama economic at visor steve rattner. >> there has to be a compromise, $16 trillion deficit, you're not going to solve all that with tax increases or discretionary cuts. we can talk about how we do it -- >> get specific, steve, because when you start talking about fixing the entitlement program, we're clear, social security is off the table. >> we're not clear. no. >> no. what secretary geithner has said on a separate process. >> eric, we've talked to some degree about the back and forth within the republican party on this deal but haven't spent as
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much time on what's happening on the left in terms of what the democrats will stomach in terms of entitlement reform if any at all. do you think there is a wing of the party that believes that this process can happen without reform on entitlements? >> no. i don't think anybody who's seriously in the game thinks that. i think the question is, how much do you have to give up, is it reasonable? what are you getting in return as michael said on the other side in terms of tax revenues. so, you know, i think there is a consensus that there has to be a balanced approach and that's what we're going to see happen. the thing about entitlements is republicans haven't really come forward with any specificity as they haven't during the campaign and say here's what we want. the president has been very specific on tax revenues and what he wants. but the republicans are trying to put him in a position of doing their job for them. saying well, you tell us what you'll take and then maybe we'll come up with a plan. and clearly obama's not going to play that game. that's what geithner was signaling in the talk shows, that we're waiting for your proposal on entitlements, tell us what it is.
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>> look, therein lies the rub. that's the rub on this. because you led in with the president's speech in 2011. very good words, serious, somber. >> words that did not play well for the republicans. >> got that. but this is where the republicans are. okay. show me you're serious. lay out where you're beginning to want to make those cuts on entitlements. because we don't want to get out in front of this and be whipped upside the head for wanting to cut all these programs to, you know, kids afterschool and rec centers. >> the white house needs to present what they're -- >> the reality, yeah. that's it. on entitlements, the republicans view is we've said already, we'll acknowledge, we get the idea we have to raise taxes and maybe even some rates, we'll -- that's not that far off the table for some of the republicans that you've heard fromp. but you've not heard the left come to the table in the form of geithner or the administration to say exactly where they're willing to dance on the pinhead of entitlements. >> they're not going to
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negotiate against themselves. nobody does that. >> they did that last year. >> oh. >> it's their idea. >> oh so -- >> you said they don't want to get out in front of what is their own idea. >> but you just admitted that entitlements need to a part of the process. that's an idea everyone agrees on. >> two things. it's the republicans -- but by and large that is a solution pushed by the republican party and the other side of the entitlement reform question is what paul krugman points out today which is that if you bring -- if you start means testing, adjust for inflation and raise the retirement age that's own nets you $300 billion. fur yeah going to make -- if you're going to make this on the back of entitlement programs you have to cut programs that are popular. >> in fact, you heard boehner and others say clearly, it's all in. but you tell us where you want to begin the process of cutting those entitlements. we've said we see your argument for the rate increases. we understand loophole closures and that. that's in our wheelhouse as
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something we feel strongly about. mr. president, lay out your -- >> this is how deadlocked it is. they can't agree who should go first. that's at stake here. >> michael is talking about some sort of political science version of the way a negotiation should take place. >> no. >> what happened in the last election is that republicans ran on this position where they were beating the hell out of democrats for cutting medicare. i mean ryan -- with the ryan/romney ads were downright hypocritical and the president has greater political strength coming out of this and he's got his own plan and he's been specific on his own terms and i think when geithner sits around uttering the same talking point over and over again about tell us what you're talking about, i think it's a fair thing to do. i think the president has a political strength right now to force the republicans to offer their own very unpopular -- >> we'll see. that's what's going to get played out over the next few weeks. >> it's chicken. >> he has more leverage. doesn't have all the leverage. >> he sass some.
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>> he's coming out strong. >> what leverage do the republicans -- i mean yes, they have some. >> they control the house. >> yes. >> that is the fact. >> but -- the reason that john boehner doesn't have very much leverage in these discussions is he doesn't really control his own caucus. >> that's true. >> and he's not a terribly reliable negotiating partner. >> john boehner does have within his caucus a certain number of votes in his pocket that will work with him to cut the deal he needs to get cut. irrespective of where people call them tea party conservative happen to be. he does have those numbers in combination of what nancy pelosi is able to put to the table, on the table, he can get this vote through. but that's the reality. he doesn't do it often. he doesn't want to do that in a vacuum where he has his right flank so outraged at the deal it makes it difficult to keep even the moderate democrats and republicans at the table. >> he has to go to his caucus with something. >> exactly. >> this is part of a continuing conversation, this whole fiscal
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cliff thing. we have to take a break. coming up after, we will ask the king of partying andrew w.k. about keynoting the my little pony convention and his revoked cultural appointment in bahrain. that is up just ahead. time for the entrepreneur of the week. lauren wanted to introduce the korean cabbage dish to mainstream america, using her former skills as a marketer she created mother-in-law's kimchi. using nonethnic packaging to appeal to a mass park and the product carried in whole foods and fresh markets. watch your business sunday morning at 7:30. [ telephones ringing ]
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support the notion that we have to deal with public safety and that driver's licenses at the state level can make that happen. >> all right. >> but what i also know, wolffe, if we keep on getting distracted by this problem we are not solving it. >> now a certain governor is actually denying licenses to undocumented immigrants, despite federal and state laws. and you'll never guess who it is. hint, her diet includes scorpions. that's next on "now." [ male announcer ] take dayquil... [ ding! ] ...and spend time on the slopes. take alka-seltzer plus cold & cough... [ buzz! ] take dayquil. use nyquil d... [ ding! ] ...and get longer nighttime cough relief. use tylenol cold multisymptom nighttime... [ coughs ] [ buzz! ] [ screams ] ...and you could find yourself... honey? ...on the couch. nyquil d. 50% longer cough and stuffy nose relief.
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progresso. in what world do potatoes, bacon and cheese add up to 100 calories? your world. ♪ [ whispers ] real bacon... creamy cheese... 100 calories... [ chef ] ma'am [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup. as the republican party tries to stop the rapid exodus of young people and minorities from within its ranks leave it to governor jan brewer, breakfaster of scorpions to mess things up in only the way she can. sued by civil rights groups for denying driver's licenses to
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undocumented immigrants who have been granted permits by the be obama administration to remain the in the united states. the deferred action program allows undocumented immigrants under 31 to avoid deportation if they arrived here before turning 16, have been in the country five straight years and are in school or have graduated from high school or a geds program or served in the military. brewer who has battled the obama administration over her state's immigration policies insists she's obeying laws. >> the state is the one that licenses the people to be able to drive on the streets. it's not the federal government. i'm not surprised i'm being sued, but that's the law and i'm going to obey my oath of office. >> it is worth noting that according to the arizona republic, the state already grants licenses to noncitizens with work permits. brewer seems to be singling out those who have received their permits through the department of homeland security's executive action. translation, jan brewer is picking a fight with president obama. michael steele, i have to go to
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you first on this. >> okay. sure, why not. >> i'm sorry, my friend. you have spoken at length and substantively about the problem that the gop has, not only with minorities but specifically with latinos. here we have a governor, we know the gop has been tripped up by actions at the state level, seems to be happening again with brewer. why is she pursuing this now. >> i don't know. it's clearly something within the water of her state. >> the water supply of arizona. >> which is dwindling. >> i think governors look at things like this through a different prism than we do sitting in new york and washington and certainly the federal government. as a former lieutenant governor, i understand what that is like and how that can be perceived outside of your state. but having said that, i still think that on the heels of everything we gone through with the messaging of the party overall, the lack of support we have right now with the hispanic community as many others are coming to the table to say, like the governor of texas, our friend rick perry, are saying look, we need to have a
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different conversation. this is not the best way to lead off that conversation. given everything else that may be factual in arizona, nationally it's not playing the way you would want as a national party because again, it -- >> that's an underestimate. >> and because it's continuing a narrative about the insensitivity of the party to those individuals who have come to this country through no means or fault of their own by their parents or whatever and you're sort of penalizing them. when things are perceived as a penalty you have to check the conversation. >> and if the policy that you have in place has already granted almost 40,000 licenses to noncitizens, it really does look like a petty fight. >> it is. >> and an executive finger wagging directeds at president obama. >> it's completely insubordinate and it's -- i would arguably say -- i would say passive/aggressive, maybe aggressive lshs aggressive. >> it's downright aggressive. >> the opposition stands up and say it's the law, it's the opposite of the law. the established law in arizona is to grant the licenses.
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>> the dhs which authorized this, not an executive order counter to much of what has been printed, the official tells us dhs does not comment on state issues. employment authorization documents issued to the deferred action for childhood arrivals, those recipients -- jan brewer has picked which ones she wants to sort of give her blessing to and which ones she doesn't. i will say franklin foer, there are other states that -- >> i want to disagree with michael op one thing. while the elites in the republican party have come to realize they have a problem with the latino vote, i'm not sure the base of the party has realized that. i think if you -- we talk about immigration reform being something where there's some possibility for bipartisan compromise. i look at a lot of the districts where a lot of the republican representatives come from and i
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don't see them having a whole lot of wiggle room to move on this issue. and i think that they're going to be flare ups like this continually going forward where you're going to have a base and have people kind of out in the provinces who aren't on the same page with the folks in washington and new york as michael said. >> i agree with that. to -- in a large measure. i would just caveat a little bit or sort of move it to the point where you say, not everyone in that base is of that mindset. >> sure. >> there has been a huge reality check in the last three or four weeks, number one. but even going back to the debate during the republican party, coming out of that infamous moment where rick perry was shot down and people booing on the issue, there's been a lot of soul searching and realization that, you know, this is not the conversation of certainly the way we want to have the conversation. so a lot of activists out there are -- have moved on this issue, not as strident but still have the strong strident voices you're referring to that
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generate and push this argument, then becomes -- >> this is back to the argument over women's health. >> right. >> republicans didn't want to talk about rape, but this was happening at the state level. also happening in congress to some degree. the states were pushing forward the conversation. >> those legislative initiatives coupled with the akins of the world sort of -- >> it taints the party. do you think or know if party leaders have spoken to her about this? >> i do not know if they have spoken to her about this but i wouldn't want to necessarily have that conversation with someone who eats scorpions for breakfast. >> you will see this play out. this is what happened at the tail end of the civil rights movement where clearly the law was established, the federal government had moved, the popular will had moved, but you saw states at the state level massive resistance. that was the policy, the official policy, of southern states against civil rights legislation that dragged it out for years, decades after, brown versus board of education, schools still weren't segregated because the states dug in their heels and said we're not going
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to implement this, do it in a haphazard fashion to create chaos and ogs po it. >> i would like to see concrete legislation happening. we know that in terms of -- >> from where? >> in congress, for example, there is the house passed stem legislation supposed to give visas to highly educated immigrants in the country but takes away money from less educated immy grants. that's not going to pass the senate. everybody needs to understand that bipartisan legislation that had bipartisan support needs to go through and still a lot more work to be done. because just doing the stem stuff is not going to be enough to move the country forward. >> this issue is not going away and this is something -- business wants this badly. i mean it has a huge impact on companies and their bottom line. >> this is something that belongs squarely in the purview of the states and where a lot of the -- >> to jan brewer? >> no, abobut i'm showing it sh the difference between an arizona and texas, or arizona and a california. that's where a lot of this
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fighting will play out. i think rightly so. we may disagree with the decision making of one particular governor, but over time to eric's broader point over time, it becomes a national consensus around these things and those states eventually fall in line as we -- >> your -- >> as we witnessed in my home state of maryland. in 1973 you had african-americans suing because they were not follow the mandates of the 1954 legislation on bussing and education. so there is a process here that unfolds itself in time in the states have a way of working it out. trust them. >> you're saying that because you don't want to have a conversation with jan brewer. >> we have two decades of -- >> politically you're right. we don't have two decades because five years from now, the political worl is completely different with 50,000 hispanics turning -- >> i was waiting for the stat. >> that is such -- >> we're going to talk about this and michael steele is going to mention -- >> 50,000 hispanics turn 18
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every month. it's a matter that doesn't wait. >> our birth rate is going down. so, you know, this is -- our country is transforming. we know this. >> we do. and yet some people seem to be woefully disaviewing reality. not naming names. president obama uses his speech at the kennedy center honors to tout the virtues of sharing american culture the world. >> speaks to something that has always made this country great, the idea here in america more than any other place on earth, we are free to follow our own passions, explore our own gifts wherever they may lead us and people from all around the world come here to make sure that they, too, can provide us the incredible gifts that they have. >> one entertainer who continues to explore his own gifts, just not in bahrain, is party king andrew w.k. we will ask him about following one's passions when he joins us live in studio coming up next. ♪ it's so important to make someone happy ♪
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they do put fragrance in the plastic, right? they do that in bowling balls as well. >> it's distinct and wonderful. >> whatever you want to play with, it's okay. you know, it's really okay. it's not only okay, it's good. this is a sign, i think this is a -- a forward-thinking advanced moment. >> that was andrew w.k. giving a motivational speech at the my little pony convention this year. the mind behind the mega jam party till you puke, hoped to be in bahrain as a state department sponsored cultural visit. after extending an invitation the state department had second thoughts. >> we had a bahrain entity that approached the embassy about cosponsoring a visit about this guy who i take it is pretty popular in bahrain. that was initially approved and
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then when more senior management at the embassy took at look at this, the one collusion was that -- conclusion was this was not an appropriate use of u.s. government funds. >> the jury remains out on precisely why the trip was canceled. quoting andrew w.k. on twitter i'm blown away after a year of planning, the u.s. state department canceled my middle east trip because i'm too party. he went on to say in a statement you can't judge a book by its cover which is true. for what it's worth other american cultural ambassadors have continued forward. kim kardashian in bahrain over the weekend spreading her unique brand of diplomacy, a milk shake franchise. moat with protests from sunni sa laugh fists who didn't approve of her, quote, bad reputation. joining me on set is the king of partying, motivational speaker and professional partier andrew w.k. andrew, great to have you on set. >> thank you. it's wonderful to be here, alex. >> as i was saying, there's a
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lot of buzz in the building about the fact you're here. we didn't know what to expect but we're happy to have you here. the first thing i have to ask you, what to your mind went down? you had this invite, prepared to go to bahrain, tell us what you wanted to do over there. i think there's a lot of misinformation about what you sort of the message you were going to spread. >> for sure. it's been per lexing to me as well. i was as shocked, perhaps even more shocked, than anybody to be asked going back into september of 2011, that's when we first received an e-mail from the state department that said u.s. state department sponsored trip to bahrain for a motivational speech. i should make this clear as much as i am a rock musician i wasn't going there so much to play music. this was more about spreading a positive party message. when i say party, i mean about celebrating life, enjoying the opportunities that you have. as i understood it, bahrain was very excited about this trip and they're not the ones that canceled this. it was actually the state department. at the last second, who had a change of heart, and i don't
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know with why. >> putting the kibosh on it. on a serious note, there is a lot of -- a lot going on in bahrain. read an excerpt from a "washington post" piece by the ceo of human rights first. she says -- very serious situation over there. we were talking during the break the fact -- >> very unparty. >> very unparty to put it mildly. >> i learned a lot about this leading up to it. people were telling me, are you sure you want to go there. for all i know maybe there was a safety issue, maybe -- i'm not taking it personally in that i know the state department was looking after me. >> your best interests. >> i saw what happened to kim and she wasn't going in an official capacity. >> right. >> she was going to promote the milk shake and even that was
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plett with quite a bit of hostility. it is an intense place, but that's why i wanted to go, to see this in person for me and my friends, all we see is stuff on tv or in the newspapers. here was a chance to go and experience firsthand what's going on over there. >> we talk about america's cultural exports and as the executive editor of "rolling stone" you are familiar with the best and the brightest. i think as a country we go back and forth about the importance of winning over hearts and minds. it would seem to be as the president said last night, continuing to export american culture would serve our best interests even in places where there is tension where there is, you know, there are questions of safety that's precisely where you sort of want to have the american presence, you want to plant a flag. >> it's a statement that you would have been asked in the first place to do this. that says, you know, as much or more than the cancellation which baffling is why the cancellation was handled in the way it was. if there are extenuating reasons or just on second thought they looked and said there's a
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culture clash here that's going to create more friction than benefit they could have called you up and had a discussion with you about that and kind of negotiated a withdraw rather than just by fiat decreeing it. >> we love negotiated withdraws here. michael steele, we talk about the president's speech in cairo in 2009 which is to re-set u.s. relations with the middle east. that hasn't happened and we don't have -- i don't have the polling with me right now. we see a decline in terms of impressions of america in the muslim world and the question is, how do we begin to repair thats especially when very -- that especially when we have the conversation around islam and generally speaking, you know, people of color in this country, immigration, we talk about these issues on the show, that has an affect on the international stage. >> it has a huge effect. beyond the purely diplomatic -- i love the scene of the state department spokeswoman try to describe in diplomatic terms why they killed your trip, you know. >> interesting. >> but the fact of it is, alex,
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you make a very important point and goes back to something the president talked about, that he came into at least during the campaign talking about not just the purely political and diplomatic links we have, but the cultural links drive that, the undergirting for relationships, what you cover at "rolling stone," for example, pretty much part of what the world follows about america and touch that in the flesh, and to have like you said, not coming to play a concert. you can do that anywhere in the world. >> exactly. >> another level of conversation. clearly something that interested them. but as most diplomats find out, they get nervous when things don't necessarily fit neatly in a box that are unpredictable as you are. anyone who has the mantra of party on, is going to have a slight edge to them. and so there's a little bit of nervousness to them. that doesn't change the fact that you feed to make that reach because culturally, how you start to change things diplomatically is curl turlly and that's where you --
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>> that's where the passion is. >> that's where people respond in a heart level. >> they get it. they're watching, they're following. they're not -- like they don't know who this guy is that's going to show up and have the conversation. they're connected. it takes the government affirming that connection by allowing him to come. >> our relationship to bahrain is particularly -- >> fraught. >> fraught. and we're playing things both ways there. we want to stand on the side of human rights and the democratic revolutions that are happening around the region, but on the other hand, we have alliances there and we're reluctant to go too far and turned our head while a lot of really bad things have happened in that country. again, i think we just don't know how to deal with the region at large. culture is one subset of this because there's a strong love/hate thing going on with our culture in these places that there is a desire to have representatives of western music. my little pony motivational
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speakers come to them and deliver the my little pony conventional party -- >> the party line. >> yeah. the party line. but there's also a complicated repullion that happens to that as well. >> sure. >> what was interesting is when the state department, i mean i spoke with him, our representative, i'll keep his name confidential because he's gotten in a lot of trouble apparent lly which is more absu, but monday when we had our phone call we went over how to present this trip, you know, part of an ambassadorship is to bring attention. >> right. >> so the idea that it was perhaps canceled because we announced it, that doesn't make any sense at all. you're trying to create that conversation, that interest and excitement. from what i saw there was more positive excitement about this idea of me going, almost because it wasn't expected, almost because it wasn't predictable, and they said they wanted to foster a positive relationship, a positive impression, with the students there about americans and about, you know, the free comes that we have and spreading those around the world.
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i was so, so honored to get to do this. i love my country. i love living here. >> andrew, i know we're not bahrain but want to make you the official cultural ambassador for this program now. >> okay. i will take that. >> you have to fight for your right to party. >> you do. >> that's exactly right. >> it is a message of peace, love and understanding. >> it is. joy -- >> as partying my friend. >> joy and celebration is something i think all people around the world, despite all kinds of beliefs and circumstances, can relate to. >> they can. andrew w.k., thank you for your time. >> thanks for having me. >> we hope to see you soon. more for you after the break.
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thank you to lee gala ber, franklin foer and chairman steele. before we go, j.c. watts are you in or out? if j.c. is in i'm in. >> party line. >> so party. >> he's so party. that is all. that is all unfortunately for
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"now." i will see you back at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific joined by frank brownry in, joy reid, jonathan altar and americans for tax reform president grover norquist. until then find us at facebook.com/now with alex. "andrea mitchell reports" is next. good afternoon, andrea. >> good afternoon, alex. thank you very much. coming up here on "andrea mitchell reports," the road to nowhere. when will the real negotiations begin? we'll have the latest from chuck todd and chris cizilla. plus, the top democrat on the house weighs and means committee, sandra levin. what is hillary clinton's new read line in syria? former congresswoman jane harman joins us. and in the line of fire, we'll hear from one of the women challenging the pentagon's ban of women in combat. plus, musician, composure, teacher winston mar sal less on a quarter century of jazz lincoln center all that next on "andrea mitchell reports." want to try to crack it? yeah, that's the way to do it!
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